Overlap - Investigations in new and forgotten storytelling

Overlap S1E1 preview: Sara Hill chats to us about Minecraft

On Tuesday 23rd October, Sara Hill will introduce us to the world-building opportunities of Minecraft when she presents the first episode of Overlap’s new season of events at the University of Sheffield. We caught up with Sara to find how her creative journey into the game began.

“A few friends were already playing it really, really obsessively. You know sometimes when your friends (whose opinions you really respect) go on about something until you can’t stand one more conversation about it? That was my first experience of Minecraft – deciding never to play it. This was before the game was officially released, about two and a half years ago.”

So what changed her mind?

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Announcing Overlap S1E1: Dig Your Own World

UPDATE 23RD OCTOBER: Our venue’s now the Raynor Lounge, still in the Students’ Union but downstairs and just off Bar One.

Following a successful pilot season of Overlap events last year, we’re delighted to break the seal on our first season proper on 23rd October. Led by guest presenter Sara Hill, we’ll be grabbing our pixelated pickaxes and heading for the mountains (well, The Raynor Lounge at The University of Sheffield) to uncover the stories and worlds that are being hewn in Minecraft.

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First Play Sheffield 16/02/12 – Report

Convened to bring together videogame experiences, chat and comparison, First Play Sheffield‘s ‘World 1-1′ transported a dozen enthusiastic advocates to a bare pub function room. Gathered round an Arthurian table arrangement, we each had two minutes to talk about the game of our choice. And the modest setting offered some grand stories.

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Join Overlap for a terrifying Halloween hangout

Join us at 8pm on Monday 31st and watch us get scared witless by pixels.

To round off a month of videogaming, Rob and I are hosting a hangout on Google+ this Halloween (that’s the social network’s built in video chat if you didn’t know). For this, the second Overlap online social, we’re getting to the bones of horror games. Controllers in hand, we’ll nervously guide characters to their certain doom while chatting about what makes the games tick with the help of classics such as Silent Hill, Resident Evil and Siren. What makes a game genuinely terrifying? How do games compare to other horror genres? Where does the story sit amongst the shocks?

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Secret Agents and Their Challenging Narratives

Thanks to all who came down to Overlap Season 0, Episode 2 at Brezza earlier this month.

I hope you all had a good time, I certainly did and it was great to see the responses to my game-making challenge (a selection can be seen in the image above). With ideas ranging from multiple personality issues to blind brothers in love (with each other) it was certainly an interesting look into stories that tell complex stories, but remember to keep the player engaged.

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Horror games on the run

Or ‘How Telling Tales While Being Chased By Zombies Helped Me Survive Slingshot’s ’2.8 Hours Later’…

Taking part in Slingshot’s City Wide Zombie Chase Game 2.8 Hours Later in Leeds last month, my fellow apocalyptic survivors and I found ourselves wondering two things: Did we have what it takes to survive an undead uprising? And, if so, what stories would we have to tell? To spoil the first question for you right off the blood-stained bat, we did survive. But it’s taken me several weeks since the zombie outbreak to bring myself to tell the tale…

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Russ Stearman introduces Overlap S0E2:The Secret Agent

Russ Stearman is our guest host for the second episode of Overlap’s pilot season. Here’s his introduction to the event which takes place on 11th October in Sheffield. There’s more info at our announcement for Overlap S0E2.

This Tuesday we’re looking at ‘The Secret Agent’ of stories and videogames. We’ll be exploring the idea of who’s controlling who and to what effect. Based on the title, you might be mistaken for thinking it’s a look at the stories of a certain Mr Bond and his ilk, foiling world terrorism and certain destruction. I’m sure there’s a whole other talk about the portrayal of super spies in games, but my inspiration comes from a different (although equally explosive) source.

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Announcing Overlap S0E2: ‘The Secret Agent’ with Russ Stearman


Following the hugely successful and only slightly uproarious Episode 1, the second in Overlap’s pilot season of live events investigating new and forgotten forms of storytelling, ‘The Secret Agent’, will take place in Sheffield, UK on Tuesday October 11th from 7.30pm.

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Announcing Overlap S0E1: Dicing the Dude – Storygames, Collaborative Narratives and Remixing the Coen Brothers

Crowdsourced plots, spontaneous story creation and the vandalism of a rug that really tied the room together are all under investigation in Overlap’s examination of Storytelling games this August.

From TV shows that never were and Lovecraftian insane asylum pen pals to Citizens-Band Radio horror and Polish child soldiers in WW2 storygames’ live inception, design and delivery offer startlingly rich and terrifyingly immersive narratives that put players in the maw of story. They’re as underrepresented and misunderstood as they are intriguing however and we’re delighted to welcome Steampower Publishing owner and White Dwarf Editor Andrew Kenrick to Overlap for an introduction to this quietly revolutionary form of storytelling.

Covering the medium’s origins in pen-and-paper roleplaying games as well as principles of play, standout systems and possible futures, Andrew will also look at Fiasco - a  new storygame based around the ‘Small Time Caper Gone Wrong’ movies that are the Coen Brothers’ weapon of choice. There’ll be a chance to explore classic bowling noir ‘The Big Lebowski’ from inside the Dude’s head with a brief interactive ‘trip’, before taking a look at how the medium’s tools can augment the toolkit of any storyteller.

This is a ranging and skillset-enlarging look at a strange and beautiful platform. We’d love you to join us.

Our tale begins in Sheffield, in the intimate surroundings of the GIST Lab, just two minutes from Sheffield train station, from 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start. You can order tickets using the form below or by visiting the event page on Eventbrite. It’s free.

Overlap Gamesquat Under the Banyan Tree

This Wednesday at 8pm GMT, Matt and myself will be repeatedly falling through an orangery to our doom on Jet Set Willy Online. It’s our first Overlap Gamesquat and we’re dropping in on Ovine‘s multiplayer version of Matthew Smith’s classic for a game and a chat about whatever storytelling subjects are on your minds. You’re invited.

Jet Set Willy‘s plot might be a simple one, but the stories it produced in its players still ring as loud as a miner’s hangover. For a decent proportion of kids growing up in the UK during the eighties the attic bug (which, incredibly, was a result of an in-game arrow which flew beyond the ZX Spectrum’s video memory to smash into game data), code card, POKE’s, April showers and apocryphal yacht trips were their first experience of everything from hacking and user-generated content to story remixing and fan fiction.

Lots to talk about just on JSW, then, but you can think of Willy’s mansion as the setting more than the subject – we’ll be chatting about all sorts and it’s really just a chance to say hi, shoot the breeze about storytelling and struggle to jump over pirouetting kangaroos.

If this sounds like fun, download the client then look for the ‘Overlap’ game on the JSWo homepage from 8pm Wednesday. Feel free to bob us a line in the comments if you’re coming along.

About us

Overlap is a place for investigation, discussion and events about new and forgotten storytelling. We focus on emerging and undiscovered platforms for stories and narrative – everything from videogames, augmented reality and role-playing games to flash mobs, social media and more.

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